Argentine Beekeepers' Magazine



December 20th, 2021

Versión en Castellano

(Espacio Apícola, December 20, 2021) Sorghum area is increased because of the current drought cycle in the central and northern areas of Argentina and the success achieved by the nutritional quality of its flour.

The sorghum sowing increment provoque two impacts on beekeeping. First, dispersion of sugarcane aphid in sorghum crops has caused the appearance of sorghum honeydew (previous note subtitled in English) in honeys from Entre Ríos, Santa Fe, Chaco and where the bees sucked the aphid outgrowths.

At second, the aphid was sheltered in other species close to previous sorghum areas this winter and it is already present in sorghum crops in Chaco province where spaying has already begun. A greater presence of aphids is expected this year as a much more aggressive and early intervention by the farmers, based on the recommendations they are receiving.

Sorghum plant has many leaves at different levels under which the aphid is housed. In addition, because there are not a specific chemical treatment, conventional sprays fail to place the product under the lower leaves where the plague resists. Because of this lower efficiency of spraying it requires 3 to 5 applications during plant development which will certainly cause damage to bee colonies who take the aphid outgrowths.

There being no specific products farmers will use what is available -said an adviser of Entre Ríos province-: sulfoxaflor, Engeo Syngenta (which is a mixture of thiamethoxam and a pyrethroid who has not effect on aphid but it does affect other instects as bees). Farmers and Suppliers will use their stock of chlorpyrifos before its permanent prohibition next november 2022. This is the most feared because of its high toxicity for bees.

The continuous spraying is a threat for bees and the presence of this honeydew generates a commercial problem.

Furthermore sorghum honeydew this year could be added to other honeydews from Epomenis cestri. This mealybugs know for parasitizing sarandí trees next to Uruguay river cause death of honeybee brood of bees who suck the mealybugs' outgrowths with sarandí' trees toxins knowing as "Mal del Río" (see Espacio Apícola 127). This mealybug is also parasitizing other native plants of Entre Ríos province. Last year these mealybugs were sighted in acacia trees and this year E. cestri would be colonizing guava, vachellia, ligustrum, blackberries plant, even prosopis and Baccharis. Since these plants produce C3 sugars we understand that the confidence interval of Delta-13C in which the honeys considered genuine are located should not be modified, unlike what happens with sorghum honeydew. However, it is possible that the abundance of these honeydews may alter the traditional sugar profile of these honeys, in addition to the proportion of pollen in the honey and its organoleptic changes. Honeydew tends to be darker, less sweet in taste, and tend to crystallize slower.

It is not a minor data, the presence of sorghum honeydew in honeys from Argentina is causing alerts in the United States by the current adaptation to the honey genuineness control protocols implemented by the FDA and that we have described in Espacio Apícola 131. This Agency, aligning itself with the reckless accusations of the American Honey Producers Assn. (AHPA) , to which we refer last May (see the note), has raised multiple alerts in the second half of this year 2021. In the specific case of honeys from Argentina, whose composition includes sorghum honeydew, the FDA would be ignoring the analyzes of international reference laboratories, considering the honeys containing these honeydew as adulterated, and rejecting even the program's certifications "True Source", as intended the AHPA president in the aforementioned note. A problem that the commercial chain hopes will be solved soon, but which further slows down the market, already hampered by the antidumping actions recently implemented in the United States.

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Fernando Esteban

Information generated by "Espacio Apícola" the Argentine Beekeepers' Magazine